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straw upon

not a curtesy or nod that was not the re- stations to act in this manner, they would sult of art; not a look nor a smile that was be thought divested of common sense. not designed for murder. Gentlemen and I had scarce finished this observation, ladies ogled each other through spectacles; when the curtain rose, and the king came for my companion observed that blindness on in a violent passion. His wife had,

of late become fashionable. All it seems, refused his proffered tenderness, affected indifference and ease, while their had spurned his royal embrace, and he hearts at the same time burnt for con- seemed resolved not to survive her fierce quest. Upon the whole, the lights, the disdain. After he had thus fretted, and music, the ladies in their gayest dresses, the queen had fretted, through the second the men with cheerfulness and expecta- act, the curtain was let down once more. tion in their looks, all conspired to make "Now,” says my companion, "you a most agreeable picture, and to fill a perceive the king to be a man of spirit; heart that sympathizes at human happi- he feels at every pore. One of your phlegness with inexpressible serenity.

matic sons of clay would have given the The expected time for the play to begin queen her own way, and let her come to at last arrived. The curtain was drawn, herself by degrees; but the king is for and the actors came on.

A woman, who immediate tenderness, or instant death. personated a queen, came in curtesying Death and tenderness are leading passions to the audience, who clapped their hands of every modern buskined hero; this upon her appearance. Clapping of hands moment they embrace, and the next stab, is, it seems, the manner of applauding mixing daggers and kisses in every period." in England; the manner is absurd, but I was going to second his remarks, when every country, you know, has its peculiar my attention was engrossed by a new absurdities. I was equally surprised, how- object. A man came in balancing a ,

a ever, at submission of the actress, who

his nose, and the audience were should have considered herself as a queen, clapping their hands in all the raptures as at the little discernment of the audience of applause. “To what purpose,” cried I, who gave her such marks of applause be- “does this unmeaning figure make his apfore she attempted to deserve them. Pre- pearance? Is he a part of the plot?” liminaries between her and the audience “Unmeaning do you call him?" rebeing thus adjusted, the dialogue was plied my friend in black. "This is one supported between her and a most hopeful of the most important characters of the youth, who acted the part of her confidant. whole play. Nothing pleases the people They both appeared in extreme distress, more than the seeing a straw balanced ; for it seems the queen had lost a child there is a great deal of meaning in the some fifteen years before, and still kept straw; there is something suited to every its dear resemblance next her heart, while apprehension in the sight, and a fellow her kind companion bore a part in her possessed of talents like these is sure of sorrows. Her lamentations grew loud; making his fortune.” comfort is offered, but she detests the very The third act now began, with an actor sound; she bids them preach comfort to who came to inform us that he was the the winds. Upon this her husband comes villain of the play, and intended to show in, who, seeing the queen so much afflicted, us strange things before all was can himself hardly refrain from tears, He was joined by another who seemed or avoid partaking in the soft distress. as much disposed for mischief as he; After thus grieving through three scenes, their intrigues continued through this the curtain dropped for the first act. whole division. “If that be a villain,"

“Truly," said I to my companion, said I, “he must be a very stupid one to “these kings and queens are very much tell his secrets without being asked; such disturbed at no very great misfortunes. soliloquies of late are never admitted in Certain I am, were people of humbler China.”



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The noise of clapping interrupted me queen was drowned, or the son was poionce more; a child of six years old was soned, I have absolutely forgotten. learning to dance on the stage, which When the play was over, I could not gave the ladies and mandarins infinite avoid observing that the persons of the satisfaction. “I am sorry,” said I, “to drama appeared in as much distress in the see the pretty creature so early learning first act as the last. “How is it possible,” so bad a trade; dancing being, I presume, said I, “to sympathize with them through as contemptible here as it is in China." five long acts! Pity is but a shortlived

"Quite the reverse,” interrupted my passion. I hate to hear an actor mouthing companion. “Dancing is a very reputable trifles; neither startings, strainings, nor and genteel employment here; men have attitudes, affect me, unless there be cause. a greater chance for encouragement from After I have been once or twice deceived the merit of their heels than their heads. by those unmeaning alarms, my heart One who jumps up and flourishes his toes sleeps in peace, probably unaffected by three times before he comes to the ground, the principal distress. There should be may have three hundred a year. He who one great passion aimed at by the actor flourishes them four times gets four hun- as well as the poet. All the rest should be dred; but he who arrives at five is ines- subordinate, and only contribute to make timable, and may demand what salary that the greater. If the actor, therefore, he thinks proper. The female dancers, exclaims upon every occasion in the tones too, are valued for this sort of jumping of despair, he attempts to move us too and crossing. But the fourth act is begun; soon; he anticipates the blow, he ceases let us be attentive."

to affect, though he gains our applause." In the fourth act the queen finds her I scarce perceived that the audience long-lost child, now grown up into a youth were almost all departed; wherefore, of smart parts and great qualifications; mixing with the crowd, my companion wherefore she wisely considers that the and I got into the street, where, essaying

I crown will fit his head better than that a hundred obstacles from coach-wheels of her husband, whom she knows to be a and palanquin-poles, like birds in their driveler. The king discovers her design, flight through the branches of a forest, and here comes on the deep distress: after various turnings, we both at length he loves the queen, and he loves the king- got home in safety. — Adieu. dom; he resolves, therefore, in order to possess both, that her son must die. The

LETTER LXXVII queen exclaims at his barbarity, is frantic with rage, and at length, overcome with

A VISIT TO A SILK-MERCHANT sorrow, falls into a fit; upon which the curtain drops, and the act is concluded. THE shops of London are as well fur

“Observe the art of the poet,” cries my nished as those of Pekin. Those of companion. “When the queen can say London have a picture hung at their door, no more, she falls into a fit. While thus informing the passengers what they have

. her eyes are shut, while she is supported to sell, as those at Pekin have a board in the arms of Abigail, what horrors do to assure the buyer that they have no we not fancy! We feel it in every nerve. intention to cheat him. Take my word 'for it, that fits are the true I was this morning to buy silk for a a posio pesis of modern tragedy."

nightcap: immediately upon entering the The fifth act began, and a busy piece it mercer's shop, the master and his two was. Scenes shifting, trumpets sounding, men, with wigs plastered with powder, mobs hallooing, carpets spreading, guards appeared to ask my commands. They bustling from one door to another; gods, were certainly the civilest people alive; demons, daggers, racks, and ratsbane. if I but looked, they flew to the place But whether the king was killed, or the where I cast my eye; every motion of

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mine sent them running round the whole measured and cut, which, I know not shop for my satisfaction. I informed how, they executed but slowly, during them that I wanted what was good, and the interval the mercer entertained me they showed me not less than forty pieces, with the modern manner of some of the and each was better than the former, nobility receiving company in their mornthe prettiest pattern in nature, and the ing gowns; “Perhaps, sir,” adds he, fittest in the world for nightcaps. “My

“My "you have a mind to see what kind of very good friend,” said I to the mercer, silk is universally worn.” Without wait"you must not pretend to instruct me ing for my reply, he spreads a piece before in silks; I know these in particular to be me, which might be reckoned beautino better than your mere flimsy Bungees.” ful even in China. “If the nobility,” con

“That may be,” cried the mercer, tinues he, “were to know I sold this to who, I afterwards found, had never con- any under a Right Honourable, I should tradicted a man in his life; "I cannot certainly lose their custom; you see, my pretend to say but they may; but I can lord, it is at once rich, tasty, and quite assure you, my Lady Trail has had a the thing." – "I am no lord," interrupted

— sack from this piece this very morning." I. — “I beg pardon,” cried he; “but be “But, friend,” said I, “though my lady pleased to remember, when you intend has chosen a sack from it, I see no neces- buying a morning gown, that you had an sity that I should wear it for a nightcap. offer from me of something worth money.

“That may be,” returned he again, Conscience, sir, conscience is my way of yet what becomes a pretty lady, will dealing; you may buy a morning gown at any time look well on a handsome

now, or you may stay till they become gentleman." This short compliment was dearer and less fashionable; but it is not thrown in so very seasonably upon my my business to advise.” In short, most ugly face, that even though I disliked reverend Fum, he persuaded me to buy the silk, I desired him to cut me off the a morning gown also, and would probably pattern of a nightcap.

have persuaded me to have bought half While this business was consigned to the goods in his shop, if I had stayed long his journeymen, the master himself took enough, or was furnished with sufficient down some pieces of silk still finer than

money. any I had yet seen, and spreading them Upon returning home, I could not help before me, “There,'

,” cries he, “there's reflecting, with some astonishment, how beauty; my Lord Snakeskin has bespoke this very man, with such a confined eduthe fellow to this for the birthnight this cation and capacity, was yet capable very morning; it would look charm- of turning me as he thought proper, and ingly in waistcoats.” — “But I don't want moulding me to his inclinations ! I knew a waistcoat,” replied I. "Not want a he was only answering his own purposes, waistcoat !” returned the mercer, “then even while he attempted to appear soliciI would advise you to buy one; when tous about mine: yet, by a voluntary waistcoats are wanted, you may depend infatuation, a sort of passion, compounded upon it they will come dear. Always buy of vanity and good-nature, I walked into before you want, and you are sure to the snare with my eyes open, and put be well used, as they say in Cheapside.” myself to future pain in order to give him There was so much justice in his advice, immediate pleasure. The wisdom of the that I could not refuse taking it; be- ignorant somewhat resembles the insides, the silk, which was really a good stinct of animals; it is diffused in but one, increased the temptation; so I gave a very narrow sphere, but within that orders for that too.

circle it acts with vigour, uniformity, and As I was waiting to have my bargains





kingdom. Had they taken place, not

France, but England, would have had the A LETTER FROM THE RIGHT HON. honor of leading up the death-dance of

EDMUND BURKE, TO A NOBLE democratic revolution. Other projects, LORD

exactly coincident in time with those,

struck at the very existence of the kingdom ON THE ATTACKS MADE UPON HIM

under any constitution. There are who HIS PENSION, IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS,

remember the blind fury of some, and the

lamentable helplessness of others; here, a EARL OF LAUDERDALE, EARLY IN THE torpid confusion, from a panic fear of the PRESENT SESSION OF PARLIAMENT danger; there, the same inaction from a

stupid insensibility to it; here, well1796

wishers to the mischief; there, indifferent

lookers-on. At the same time, a sort . . ASTRONOMERS have supposed that of national convention, dubious in its if a certain comet, whose path intersected nature, and perilous in its example, nosed the ecliptic, had met the earth in some (I

Parliament in the very seat of its authority, forget what) sign, it would have whirled sat with a sort of superintendence over us along with it, in its eccentric course, it, and little less than dictated to it, not into God knows what regions of heat and only laws, but the very form and essence cold. Had the portentous comet of the of legislature itself. In Ireland things Rights of Man, which "from its horrid ran in a still more eccentric course. hair shakes pestilence and war," and "with Government was unnerved, confounded, fear of change perplexes monarchs,” and in a manner suspended. Its equipoise had that comet crossed upon us in that was totally gone. I do not mean to speak internal state of England, nothing human disrespectfully of Lord North. He was a could have prevented our being irresistibly man of admirable parts, of general knowlhurried out of the highway of heaven, into edge, of a versatile understanding fitted all the vices, crimes, horrors, and miseries for every sort of business, of infinite wit and of the French Revolution.

pleasantry, of a delightful temper, and Happily, France was not then Jacobin- with a mind most perfectly disinterested. ized. Her hostility was at a good distance. But it would be only to degrade myself by We had a limb cut off, but we preserved a weak adulation, and not to honour the the body. We lost our colonies, but we memory of a great man, to deny that he kept our constitution. There was, in- wanted something of the vigilance and deed, much intestine heat; there was a spirit of command, that the time required. dreadful fermentation. Wild and savage Indeed a darkness, next to the fog of this insurrection quitted the woods, and awful day, lowered over the whole region. prowled about our streets in the name of For a little time the helm appeared Reform. Such was the distemper of the abandoned public mind that there was no madman, in his maddest ideas and maddest projects,

Ipse diem noctemque negat discernere cælo,

Nec meminisse via media Palinurus in who might not count upon numbers to

unda. support his principles and execute his designs.

At that time I was connected with men Many of the changes, by a great mis- of high place in the community. They nomer called parliamentary reforms, went, loved liberty as much as the Duke of not in the intention of all the professors Bedford can do, and they understood it at and supporters of them, undoubtedly, but least as well. Perhaps their politics, as went in their certain, and, in my opinion, usual, took a tincture from their character, not very remote effect, home to the utter and they cultivated what they loved. The destruction of the constitution of this liberty they pursued was a liberty in


separable from order, from virtue, from have. I have never suppressed any man, morals, and from religion, and was neither never checked him for a moment in his hypocritically nor fanatically followed. course, by any jealousy or by any policy. They did not wish that liberty, in itself I was always ready, to the height of my one of the first of blessings, should in its means (and they were always infinitely perversion become the greatest curse below my desires), to forward those abiliwhich could fall upon mankind. To pre- ties which overpowered my own.

He is serve the constitution entire, and practi- an ill-furnished undertaker who has no cally equal to all the great ends of its machinery but his own hands to work formation, not in one single part, but in with. Poor in my own faculties, I ever all its parts, was to them the first object. thought myself rich in theirs. In that Popularity and power they regarded alike. period of difficulty and danger more These were with them only different means especially, I consulted and sincerely coof obtaining that object, and had no pref- operated with men of all parties who erence over each other in their minds, but seemed disposed to the same ends, or to as one or the other might afford a surer or any main part of them. Nothing to a less certain prospect of arriving at that prevent disorder was omitted; when it end. It is some consolation to me, in appeared, nothing to subdue it was left the cheerless gloom which darkens the uncounseled nor unexecuted, as far as I evening of my life, that with them I could prevail. At the time I speak of, commenced my political career,

and never

and having a momentary lead, so aided for a moment, in reality nor in

appearance, and so encouraged, and as a feeble instrufor any length of time, was separated ment in a mighty hand, - I do not say I from their good wishes and good opinion. saved my country; I am sure I did my

By what accident it matters not, nor country important service. There were upon what desert, but just then, and in few, indeed, that did not at that time acthe midst of that hunt of obloquy which knowledge it; and that time was thirteen ever has pursued me with a full cry through years ago. It was but one voice, that no man life, I had obtained a very considerable in the kingdom better deserved an honourdegree of public confidence. I know well able provision should be made for him. enough how equivocal a test this kind of So much for my general conduct through popular opinion forms of the merit that the whole of the portentous crisis from obtained it. I am no stranger to the in- 1780 to 1782, and the general sense then security of its tenure. I do not boast of it. entertained of that conduct by my country. It is mentioned to show, not how highly I But my character as a reformer, in the prize the thing, but my right to value the particular instances which the Duke of use I made of it. I endeavoured to turn Bedford refers to, is so connected in printhat short-lived advantage to myself into ciple with my opinions on the hideous a permanent benefit to my country. Far changes which have since barbarized am I from detracting from the merit of France, and, spreading thence, threatened some gentlemen, out of office or in it, on the political and moral order of the whole that occasion. No! — It is not my way world, that it seems to demand something to refuse a full and heaped measure of of a more detailed discussion. justice to the aids that I receive. I have, My economical reforms were not, as his through life, been willing to give every- Grace may think, the suppression of a palthing to others, and to reserve nothing for try pension or employment, more or less. myself but the inward conscience that I Economy in my plans was, as it ought to had omitted no pains to discover, to ani- be, secondary, subordinate, instrumental. mate, to discipline, to direct the abilities I acted on state principles. I found a

. of the country for its service, and to place great distemper in the commonwealth, them in the best light to improve their and, according to the nature of the evil age, or to adorn it. This conscience I and of the object, I treated it. The mal


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